Burberry brings back the Blankos Block Party NFT-based game

By June 20, 2022The Sandbox
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Burberry brings back the Blankos Block Party NFTbased game
Photo: Burberry

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Burberry is deepening its partnership with Mythical Games’s Blankos Block Party, by building a branded virtual world, adding more characters and releasing virtual accessories in the blockchain-based game.

Following a collection of a digital Burberry-branded Sharky B character and corresponding accessories sold last year, Burberry is releasing a new unicorn character called Minny B. Similar to Sharky B, Minny B is designed with a playful interpretation of Burberry's signatures, such as the orange check and monogram, in addition to accessories including a boom box, gold horseshoe chain and a “shellphone”, all of which can be purchased in-game starting 22 June. This time, a Burberry virtual world has landed in the game in the form of a floating virtual oasis. People who own Burberry’s existing Sharky B character, which was introduced last August, also will receive a free digital bucket hat.

Rewarding players who have previously copped Burberry’s in-game assets is similar to how it approached its physical B Series drops, which gave previous collectors early access. “Being able to do that in the Blankos World is kind of the dream,” says Burberry global VP of channel innovation Rachel Waller. “We want to build a relationship. I think brands have done a lot of hype in this space and having a mechanism within Blankos to actually do that in-game is the direction of travel that we want to be going towards.”

The project ticks a number of boxes for Burberry in both the digital and analog realms: it offers a venue to experiment with gaming, digital goods, NFTs and Web3-style community-building while continuing traditions such as summer destination pop-ups and its limited edition B Series drops. “We are on a learning curve, so there’s a huge amount of value in how we learn to engage with the community and new creators and how that relationship evolves. There is a huge amount that we measure in terms of what we are learning. That’s where the partnership becomes really important for us,” Waller says.

Blankos’s audience spans from teens to people in their forties, says Mythical Games co-founder and chief creative officer Jamie Jackson, helping Burberry get in front of a new customer. According to data from Geeiq, which measures game demographics based on social media followers, more than 50 per cent of its audience is between 25 and 34, 86 per cent of its audience is male and 46 per cent make $50,000 or more a year, skewing to a slightly more mature and affluent audience than some platforms with larger audiences.

“We know our consumers, especially younger consumers, are super interested in this space anyway. [There are] all these preconceptions around this huge chasm between luxury consumers and these spaces, but people get very excited about these kinds of activations from us,” Waller says. “It allows us to speak to new consumers in different ways.”

That Burberry would come back for more is a testament of the success of the inaugural partnership and speaks to luxury’s ongoing relationship with gaming companies. For luxury, games have evolved to be testing grounds for concepts like digital fashion and virtual worlds, even beyond the concept of competition-based gameplay. Gucci has been another early and notable adopter, having recently extended its early partnership with Roblox while building out new real estate in The Sandbox. Louis Vuitton launched a landmark partnership with League of Legends in 2019, and has since followed that with its own game that rewards players for learning about its heritage with the promise of NFTs.

Gaming has been critical in seeding the metaverse, with investor enthusiasm in the metaverse being driven in part by gaming momentum, according to a recent metaverse report from McKinsey & Co., which referred to games as the “proto” metaverse. Researchers noted that already, gaming platforms are expanding to multiple uses, such as socialising and attending virtual concerts.

For Burberry, the price and availability of assets this time are structured similarly to its first collection: the Minny B character is the most exclusive and highest-priced. The accessories are more accessible in price and quantity. Players can price and sell items they’ve purchased on a secondary marketplace. Burberry gets a percentage of revenue from both primary and secondary sales.

Last year, all 750 of the Sharky B characters, priced at $299.99, sold out in less than 30 seconds and were later resold for more than the original price. A total value of at least $375,000 worth of 2,250 NFTs sold out in two minutes, and Burberry also offered an unlimited number of accessories, starting at $24.99, for two weeks. It also generated high volumes of online conversations, reposts, shares and likes.

A key challenge in developing something like this is “finding beautiful ways of playing that does not cheapen the value of the codes”, Waller says. The unicorn, she points out, is inspired by archival cutlery from founder Thomas Burberry’s family. The shellphone? That’s just for fun. “We're a luxury brand, but we should be playing with how you imagine us as a brand and the codes of the brand. Does it look very different to how it looks on a silk shirt? Yeah, of course it does. But it still is beautiful. It's creative.”

In the future, expect more interoperability and utility for early collectors. Mythical is developing more games in which, for example, someone who owns a Burberry character might be able to display it on the dashboard of their virtual car. “It's just another way for me to show off what I've got,” Jackson says. “You know, we like to show off as gamers. Everyone likes to show off, right? It's all about tribes. There's going to be a group of people that can show that they're part of that tribe in this game and I hope in the future in other spaces.”

Perks might extend to the physical world. “We talk about this all the time. I’m obsessed with this idea of your physical and digital selves,” Waller says, pointing to the social retail concept that Burberry opened in Shenzhen, China, in 2020. “Obviously, in China, it's easier because you exist in a Wechat ecosystem. But, what are the things that we give you that allow you to seamlessly move between your digital and physical relationship with the brand? There's so much fertile ground there.”

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